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Fox Valley municipalities anticipate large number of absentee ballot requests

Published: Sep. 4, 2020 at 5:56 PM CDT
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FOX VALLEY, Wis. (WBAY) - Because of the pandemic, mail-in voting has become more popular in this year’s elections. For some municipalities, that has impacted voter turnout.

“By what we saw in August it was huge,” said Pam Ubrig, the City of Oshkosh Clerk.

Oshkosh saw more than 11,000 votes total cast in the August primary compared to a similar election in 2016 which saw under 6,000 votes cast.

City Clerk Pam Ubrig believes the city’s focus on mail-in voting during the pandemic led to the higher turnout.

“For the August election, the council had directed me and my staff to mail out an absentee ballot request form to all the registered voters in the city of Oshkosh,” said Ubrig.

The Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) recently did something similar, sending out information on different ways people can vote that included an absentee ballot request form.

That mailer was sent to any registered voter that had not yet requested an absentee ballot, which the WEC reported was 2.6 million people.

“I would have to say that, with the City of Oshkosh, since the mailing went out for WEC, we’ve seen an uptick on the My Vote software of individuals requesting absentee ballots,” said Ubrig.

“I know she’s got over 10,000 requests already,” said Winnebago Co. Clerk Susan Ertmer. “City of Neenah I believe has at least 5,000 already.”

Ertmer says they’ve ordered about 122,000 absentee ballots in anticipation of demand.

The Outagamie County Clerk’s Office says overall they’ve gotten 30,000 absentee requests so far and it’s expected that number will at least double. Appleton alone anticipates getting around 20,000 requests.

All ballots will be distributed to municipalities by September 16th.

“Once they get the ballots, they’re able to respond to those requests,” said Ertmer. “So the sooner you get the request in, the sooner they can get those ballots to you.”

Ertmer has noticed some voters are getting the WEC mailer after they’ve already requested a ballot, leading to clerks getting multiple requests from the same person.

Appleton’s City Clerk office has noticed the same issue.

“So I guess the one thing [voters] should keep in mind is once they’ve made that request, they don’t have to do it again,” said Ertmer.

Absentee ballot requests must be in by October 29th, though most clerks suggest voters get that request submitted as soon as possible.

People can request online at myvote.wi.gov, by mail, or at their municipal clerk’s office.

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